- Associated Press - Wednesday, January 21, 2015

WAUSAU, Wis. (AP) - A Wisconsin man was sentenced Wednesday to 40 years in prison in the fatal shooting and dismemberment of a Minnesota man.

Kou Thao, 28, of Wausau, pleaded no contest in September to second-degree intentional homicide in the April 2013 death of 58-year-old Tong Pao Hang, of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Thao was sentenced in Marathon County Circuit Court. The Wausau Daily Herald Media reported (https://wdhne.ws/1BI8H6S ) his sentence also includes 20 years of extended supervision after his release.

Thao, who was also convicted of hiding a corpse and possession of a firearm by a felon, was accused of shooting and dismembering Hang, and taking Hang’s severed head to Milwaukee in the trunk of his car in the spring of 2013. Other body parts were found in the basement of a Milwaukee home.

A motive in the killing was unclear. Prosecutors have said it appeared the two men met just days before the shooting.

A Marathon County judge ruled last year that Thao was mentally capable of assisting with his own defense.

Thao’s attorney, Steven Kohn, had argued his client deserved less than the maximum sentence of 80 years in the prison system, including time in prison and on supervision.

“I don’t think this is a young man who is a worst-case offender and for whom we have no hope,” Kohn said Wednesday.

But Marathon County Deputy District Attorney Theresa Wetzsteon told Judge Michael Moran that Thao had a “pattern of criminal behavior and violence” as far back as 2002.

Hang’s son, Shoua Neng Hang, said that his father was a loving man who was devoted to his family and took his children fishing and camping.

“Losing and saying goodbye to my father is one of the most difficult things I have gone through,” Hang said. “If tears could build a stairway to heaven, I would walk right up there and bring my dad home again.”

When it was Thao’s turn to speak, he said the killing was not premeditated or intentional, but that it happened in the heat of the moment. He also apologized to the victim’s family and his own, according to the newspaper.

“I am not a monster,” Thao said. “I am truly sorry.”

Before sentencing Thao, the judge said that the crime had shocked the community.

“It’s more like an execution than an accident,” Moran said.

___

Information from: Wausau Daily Herald Media, https://www.wausaudailyherald.com

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